The Big Blog Exchange (BBE) is a Hostelling International competition that gives bloggers the chance to swap lives and blogs with each other around the world for 10 days. In the sixth part of our series of interviews with the BBE 2013 winners, Liesbet Maroye tells us how the competition gave her the opportunity to travel stunning South Africa.
Full name: Liesbet Maroye
Blog url: http://liesbetmaroye.wordpress.com/
Where do you live: Belgium
Where did you visit on the BBE: South Africa
What were the biggest highlights of the exchange?
I think that every BBE winner will say the same as it’s hard to pick the biggest highlights – but I’ll give it a try! Of course the South African wildlife, the game drives, the nature and the animals. I was really amazed by our roadtrip on the Garden Route; every bend revealed a new landscape. Besides the nature, I often think back to the moment that we were eating braai in a typical shebeen with other guests from the hostel, with hostel crew members surrounded by the South African ambiance. The day that touched me most was the day that we visited the township of Langa followed by a visit to the Robbenisland. It makes the whole story of Apartheid more real and touching.
Has the BBE changed you?
It was the first time in my life I travelled alone that far away and that I lived the feeling of “go with the flow”. As the journey was organised by the South African representative of HI, I didn’t really know what to expect. So every night I went to sleep after some amazing experiences and I got up the next day longing for more! And yes, such an experience can be a source of inspiration for your own life – It made me think about my future, about what I want to do and about how I want to grow.
Did the experience change your views about travel?
It did not really change my views about travel, but rather it confirmed them. Staying in a hostel, makes you feel more like a traveller than a tourist. By talking and travelling together, you learn how others deal with their quest for happiness, it teaches you to appreciate the things you have. I adore those moments where total strangers become travel friends by the end of the day.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering?
Three words: do not hesitate :). Really. Don’t. I am not a professional blogger (maybe one day, but not now). I am just a girl who likes blogging about my life and my journeys. When I entered the competition, I had a very basic blog, but as I was determined to win, I put all my energy and commitment into it. Whatever you blog about, this is your chance to meet like-minded people and to share your thoughts. So, just go for it; get people to vote for you, engage them with your enthousiasm, keep on blogging and maybe you’ll get that HI once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Would you have done anything differently looking back?
I don’t really think that I would have done anything differently. Just enjoy, go with the flow and blog about it.
Sum up the BBE in three words:
One amazing experience!
Feeling inspired? Sign up for this year’s Big Blog Exchange and watch the trailer for the Big Blog Exchange 2014 here.